December 7, 1990: Unauthorized Pyrotechnics

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(Pictured: Madonna, in the elaborate getup she wore for the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1990.)

December 7, 1990, was a Friday. The top headline this morning regards Saddam Hussein’s surprise announcement yesterday that he would release more than 2,000 foreigners held hostage in Iraq and Kuwait, one of the objectives set down by the UN for ending the four-month old Persian Gulf crisis. There’s no indication of a timetable, but Iraq’s UN ambassador says he hopes the captives will be home by Christmas. Cable TV mogul Ted Turner and actress Jane Fonda announce their engagement. (They will marry next year and divorce in 2001.) Actress Joan Bennett, best known for her film-noir roles in the 1940s and an Emmy-nominated performance on Dark Shadows, dies at age 80. Soul singer Dee Clark, best known for the 1961 hit “Raindrops,” dies at age 52. Future baseball star Yasiel Puig is born. Six games are played in the National Hockey League tonight; yesterday, the league announced that new franchises, to be named the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, will begin play in the fall of 1992. Nine games are played in the NBA tonight. The Utah Jazz snap the Los Angeles’ Lakers eight-game winning streak with a 101-79 victory. Karl Malone leads all scorers with 27; Magic Johnson leads the Lakers with 20.

On TV tonight, ABC wins the night with Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, the sitcom Going Places (about young TV comedy writers in Los Angeles) and the newsmagazine 20/20. CBS counters with a Garfield special, a repeat of A Claymation Christmas Carol, Over My Dead Body (a detective drama starring Edward Woodward and Jessica Lundy), and Dallas. Fox airs America’s Most Wanted and an episode of Against the Law, a legal comedy/drama set in Boston and starring Michael O’Keefe. NBC’s lineup includes Quantum Leap, Night Court, Wings, and a news special following homicide detectives on the job in Houston. Later tonight, Johnny Carson welcomes singer Patti LaBelle. The top new movie this weekend is The Rookie, starring Charlie Sheen and directed by Clint Eastwood; it will place third at the box office behind Home Alone and Misery and ahead of Dances With Wolves and Three Men and a Little Lady.

Fleetwood Mac wraps up its eight-month, worldwide Behind the Mask tour in Inglewood, California. It’s the last show for guitarist Rick Vito, and the last for a while for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. Poison and Warrant play the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago. Level 42 plays Hammersmith Odeon in London, and Jane’s Addiction plays the Utah State Fair Coliseum in Salt Lake City. New Kids on the Block wrap up a two-night stand in Providence, and the Go-Gos play Dallas. A death-metal show in Milwaukee comes to an abrupt end when one band’s unauthorized pyrotechnics sets their drums on fire and blows up the drum riser. On the new Billboard Hot 100 to be released tomorrow, “Because I Love You” by Stevie B goes to #1, knocking last week’s #1, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston, to #2. “From a Distance” by Bette Midler is up to #3 from #5 last week. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Tom’s Diner” by DNA with Suzanne Vega and “Justify My Love” by Madonna, which blasts to #10 from #23 on the strength of recent publicity. MTV has already decided not to air its controversial video; earlier in the week, Madonna appeared on ABC’s Nightline, which showed the video and grilled her about it. “Justify My Love” makes the biggest move within the Top 40 by a longshot; the next biggest mover is Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You,” up seven spots to #24. To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice marks its fifth week atop the Billboard 200 album chart.

Perspective From the Present: “Because I Love You” is one of the more inexplicable #1 hits of all time. It’s a generic R&B love ballad with absolutely nothing interesting about it, but it would spend the rest of the holiday season, four weeks in all, at #1. That was my first holiday season at the little AM/FM combo in Clinton, Iowa, which I had joined in March. I don’t know how happy I was to be there at the time; I felt as though I should be further up the market ladder in the year I turned 30. The experience looks better in retrospect, however. I had a good boss committed to doing good radio, and he left me alone to do my job, which was not always my experience.

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